I hope everyone will join me in giving a group hug to the awesome Tracy Wolff!
BK: Welcome Tracy!
Hi Beth! Thanks so much for having me. As you are one of my favorite writers, it’s always a pleasure and a thrill to be asked to guest on your blog.
BK: You are one of the busiest, most prolific and honored writers I know. When I spoke to you at RWA this year, you said you had ventured into a new genre. Tell us about that genre and how it meshes for you with writing erotic romance and sweeter romance for Harlequin.
I have ventured into a new genre, and that genre is Young Adult. I’m writing as Tracy Deebs and my first YA paranormal, Tempest Rising, hits the shelves in May 2011. I’ve included the cover here, just to give everyone a sneak peak. It’s a dark mermaid tale of a girl on the brink of her seventeenth birthday. The daughter of a professional surfer and a mermaid, Tempest knows that when she turns seventeen, she’ll have to choose whether to be human or mermaid. For years, she’s known that she’ll choose human, but as her birthday approaches, strange things happen that make her realize that the choice might not be as simple as she always thought it would be. It’s got a great love triangle between a hot human surfer and an even hotter selkie shifter, and was so much fun to write that I turned around and started another YA with two friends, called The International Kissing Club. It’s a contemporary YA that follows four small town girls who become foreign exchange students to experience fun, adventure and kissing foreign boys 🙂 It comes out in the Spring of 2012. By the way, if your readers want to stop by my new YA blog, I’m running a contest to give away one ARC for Tempest Rising. It’s the only copy that will be available for months.
BK: How are you and your books alike?
Wow, that’s a loaded question, as I write so many different subgenres I’m afraid I’ll come across as having multiple personalities if I try to answer that 🙂 But to be honest, the one thing I think all my books have in common with each other and with me is that whether I’m writing as Tracy Wolff, Tracy Deebs or Tessa Adams, is the deep emotionality of my writing. I love to put my characters in really trying situations that bring out the best and the worst in them. I’m not happy if I haven’t wrung every drop of emotion out of them, and that goes for contemporary, paranormal, erotic or YA.
BK: What’s one of the best compliments someone could (or has) give(n) you on your writing (another way of phrasing the question: what sort of comment would make you feel someone really ‘got’ your writing?)
Hmm. I have fabulous readers who send me the most wonderful emails, so this is a really hard question to answer. One compliment that I get a lot, and that always make me happy is: “Every time I read one of your books, the conflict is so real and powerful that I am convinced– even though it’s a romance– that you’ll never be able to get the hero and heroine together in the end. And then you do.” Since that’s what I love to see as a reader and exactly what I aim for as a writer, I’m always thrilled when my books can deliver.
Today, I’m giving away copies of From Friend to Father and Beginning with Their Baby, the first two books in the trilogy that ends with Unguarded, my Harlequin Superromance that is available December 7, 2010. Unguarded is a story that is very near and dear to my heart. Rhiannon, the heroine, is the survivor of a brutal rape that has all but emotionally crippled her. For three years, she’s been a frozen shell of her former self, unable to emotionally connect with anyone. My much younger hero, Shawn, sneaks up under her defenses and helps her realize that she is still a strong, passionate, beautiful woman. Oh, and to sweeten the pot, I’ll also throw in a copy of Full Exposure, my first erotic romance, and the first book I ever wrote, so don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered to win 🙂
Rhiannon Jenkins is an events planner on the rise. And her latest client, Shawn Emerson, could make her career. Too bad the gorgeous man insists on mixing a lot of pleasure with his business. In Rhiannon’s books getting involved with a client is the fastest way to exit a job. So, no. She’ll resist all his come-get-me looks and tempting offers.
While his charm is easy to overlook, Shawn in the role of confidant and friend breaks down all her best defenses. Suddenly the tables turn and she wants to be close to him. That means opening up about the ugly events of her past—a risk she hasn’t taken before now. Oh, but he could be so worth it!
Humiliation was a jagged blade scraping away at her insides as Rhiannon poured herself a glass of wine. Normally she wasn’t much of a drinker—it had been a little too easy to rely on alcohol to help her sleep after the attack so she’d quit touching the stuff—but tonight she felt like she more than deserved it. God knew, her first foray into the dating arena in fifteen years hadn’t gone quite the way she’d planned.
What had she been thinking, she wondered, as she walked through the dark living room toward her bedroom. How could she have forgotten herself so completely that she’d taken off her jacket in front of him? It wasn’t like she didn’t live with the scars every day of her life, wasn’t like she ever forgot that they were there.
Except she had forgotten. Today, with Shawn, the pain of the last few years had dropped away until it was just the two of them having fun. Until she was just regular old Rhiannon Jennings on a date with a smart, nice, good-looking man. For a minute, she’d even thought she had a chance of hitting that stupid ball.
But instead of a home run, she’d ended up striking out in the worst way possible. It would be a long time before she forgot the look in his eyes when he’d seen her arms. It was eerily similar to the way Richard had eventually looked at her.
Lifting her glass to her lips, she drained the wine in one quick gulp, then started undressing as the alcohol burned warmly in her stomach. Normally she undressed in the dark, hating to look at the damage that had been done to her body, but tonight she couldn’t help herself.
Making her way into the bathroom, Rhiannon flipped on the light and forced herself to stand in front of the full-length mirror. She’d already taken off her jacket, so she was dressed only in her blue silk tank and black dress pants. Her arms were bare, the curlicue scars on them standing out in stark relief against the faint olive tint of her skin.
They weren’t atrocious, she realized with a faint sense of surprise. It had been so long since she’d looked at them—since she’d allowed herself to look at them—that she hadn’t realized how much the scars that criss-crossed her biceps and forearms had faded. They were still there, obviously, or Shawn wouldn’t have been able to see them from across the batting cage, but at least they weren’t that ugly pinkish-purple she’d lived with for so long.
No, the scars were now nothing but thin, white lines that looped and crossed down her shoulder to her biceps and triceps, past her elbows to her forearms. If she didn’t look too closely, they could pass for lace or the thinnest of ribbon if one discounted the complete randomness of the pattern. Or the wide scars around her wrists, from where she’d yanked against the ropes until her blood had stained them dark red.
He’d done it to mark her, so that she would always remember him—or at least that’s what he’d told her. Personally, she thought he’d done it because he was a sadistic bastard who’d enjoyed causing as much pain as he possible could.
Maybe they were both right, because God knew, most nights his face was still the last thing she saw before drifting off to sleep and the first thing she remembered after waking up.
Three years later and she still didn’t know what had made him do what he’d done to her. It wasn’t just that he’d beat and cut her damn near to death, nor was it only that he’d raped her. Both crimes were horrendous in and of themselves, but together…. She shuddered. Together they had ruined any chance at a life she would ever have.
But standing here thinking about it, thinking about him, wasn’t getting the job done. Inside her head a little voice was shrieking at her to stop, to walk away. Not to do this. But a part of her knew that if she didn’t do this now, then she never would. And she was sick of living like that.
Sick of hiding behind long sleeves and pants in the summertime and long, matronly dresses at the parties she oversaw.
Sick of showering and dressing in the dark because she couldn’t stand to see her own body.
With a shudder, Rhiannon closed her eyes. Ripped off her shirt. Stepped out of her pants. Took off her bra and panties, until she stood completely nude in front of the mirror. Then tried to look, tried to force herself to open her eyes and confront the woman she had become.
It was even harder than she thought it would be. Images of the dark, unreadable look in Shawn’s eyes as he’d stared at her assailed her, mixed and combined with the face of the man who had done this to her until it was all she could do not to dive into bed and pull the covers over her head.
But she’d already done that, had already spent days and weeks hiding from the world, letting her life pass her by because she was too depressed to deal. Too miserable to get on with a life that felt like it was no longer worth living.
Damn it, no. She forced her eyes open. She was done with hiding from herself, done with hating herself and her body because of what some madman had done to her. Though everything inside of her urged her to flee, Rhiannon held her ground and made herself look.
She started with her legs, which bore scars similar to those on her arms—wide bands around her ankles from the restraints. Shallow knife wounds on her shins and thighs, from where he had cut her and laughed.
Then she moved up to her breasts and abdomen to the deeper, wider scars that marked where he had stabbed her—not deeply enough to kill her, but more than enough to mark her for life.
Memories bombarded her, making her knees tremble and her breath hitch. She pushed them away, refused to give in to the fear that assailed her every time she thought of him. Oh, but it was hard, so hard to stand here, and look at the damage. To look at what he’d done to her simply because he could.
When she’d had enough, when her knees had finally stopped knocking together and her heartbeat had almost returned to normal, she flipped off the light and made her way back into the bedroom.
After crawling into her pajamas, she burrowed under her covers but left the light on. Across the room, the TV beckoned, promising if not total oblivion then at least a momentary distraction. She reached for the remote, started to click the power button, but in the end, couldn’t do it.
That’s how she’d been coping for years. A glass of wine, late night re-runs of her favorite sit-coms. Anything and everything to avoid the fact that she’d been hurt, simply because someone had wanted to hurt her, to scare her.
Anything and everything to avoid the fact that her husband had left her to deal with the aftermath of the attack on her own—all because he couldn’t accept what she had become. But then, it was hard to blame him when she couldn’t accept it herself.
Reaching out, she swept the empty wine glass off of her nightstand with one quick flick of her hand. It hit the wall, shattered into a million tiny pieces. Irreparably broken, like her.
It felt so good to admit it, so good not to fight it any more that she shoved the pile of books onto the floor next. Did the same with her phone and alarm clock.
Rage swelled within her. Huge, towering, uncontainable rage that nearly smothered her with its intensity. Climbing out of bed, she grabbed the large, free-standing jewelry box Richard had given her for her thirty-fifth birthday and shoved it hard enough to have it tumbling onto its side. The mirrored tray she kept on the top of it came crashing down, along with her perfume bottles and hand creams. Its doors fell open, earrings and rings, bracelets and brooches, necklaces and watches tumbling drunkenly out.
She knew she should stop, knew she should crawl back into bed and pull the covers over her head like she had so many times before. But she was sick of hiding, sick of pretending all those horrible things hadn’t happened to her. They had happened, and damn it, she was furious that they had.
Rhiannon headed for the dresser on the other side of the room, picked up the beautiful vase she’d bought at her favorite furniture store and smashed it against the wood. Did the same to the tall, slender lamp and collection of odds and ends that rested on the other side of the dresser. Then picked up the music box Matt had given her the year before and heaved it, as hard as she could, against the wall. It hit a print she had hanging there, under glass, and both shattered, the picture frame crashing to the ground with a resounding thud.
She moved onto the chest of drawers near the door and did the same thing, until there was nothing left to throw. Nothing left in the entire room to destroy.
When she was finished, when the fury had left as suddenly as it had come, Rhiannon stepped gingerly through the mess. Closing her bedroom door firmly behind her, she sank onto the sofa and pulled the lavender afghan she had resting there over her. For the first time in a very long time, she fell asleep almost as soon as she closed her eyes.